Hot Milk Sponge Cake – Retro Recipe


Hot Milk Sponge Cake

Hot Milk Sponge Cake is a very versatile cake that can be frosted with any flavor of frosting, used as a base for strawberry shortcake or split in half to use for the cake part of Boston Cream Pie! Hot Sponge Cake is almost as easy to prepare as a cake mix. The recipe has been in existence since at least the early 1900’s if not earlier. The method for making the cake batter for Hot Milk Sponge Cake is somewhat different than the traditional way of mixing a cake batter.

A Brief Background

It is my pleasure to be friends with Milly Kay. We have been playing mahjongg together almost every Thursday afternoon for the past 7 years.


Milly is an extraordinary woman. She grew up in Philadelphia and drove a trolley car there while her husband was away at war. She’s worked in a candy store wrapping chocolates. Whenever I picture her doing this I always chuckle because I’m reminded of the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy and Ethel were working in a candy store and the candy was moving on the conveyor belt faster than they could wrap the pieces of candy. (If you haven’t seen this, see if you can find it on YouTube or somewhere – it’s too funny!)

Milly was trained to be a hairdresser but didn’t really have a chance to do this for very long because she married the love of her life, Robert Kay. She likes to tell her friends that Robert was born on 3/13/13 and she was born on 8/18/18. Pretty interesting numbers!

Here’s where the Hot Milk Sponge Cake comes into the story. Milly and Robert Kay were married in 1941. Milly’s mother-in-law gave her the recipe for Hot Milk Sponge Cake because Robert loved it. Almost every week during the many years that Robert worked, Milly baked him a Hot Milk Sponge Cake. She often frosted it with a frosting made of confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, milk and vanilla. Occasionally Robert would ask for the cake without any frosting. For many years, a slice of Hot Milk Sponge Cake would accompany Robert’s lunch that he took to work with him.

I had never heard of Hot Milk Sponge Cake until Milly told me about it and she was kind enough to share her recipe with me.

The Methodology

The main difference in the way a Hot Milk Sponge Cake is mixed as compared with traditional cake batter is that the milk and butter are heated together at medium low heat until the butter melts.

While the milk and butter are heating, beat 4 eggs in a mixer for 3-4 minutes until they are light and frothy.

Be sure to grease and flour a tube pan or Bundt pan while the milk & butter are heating and the eggs are beating!

Once the eggs are frothy and lemon-colored, add the sugar and beat 3-5 minutes. Add vanilla extract.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. When butter has melted, remove milk/butter mixture from the heat. Alternate adding dry ingredients and liquid ingredients to the mixer. When all ingredients are well incorporated, pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 350°F. for 45 minutes.

When cake tester comes out clean, remove cake from oven and cool for 20 minutes before taking it out of the pan.

The Recipe

Hot Milk Sponge Cake
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
  1. 1 cup milk
  2. 1/2 stick butter
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 2 cups sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 2 1/2 cups flour
  7. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour tube pan or Bundt pan.
  3. Place milk and butter into a small saucepan and heat over medium low heat until butter is completely melted. Set aside.
  4. Place 4 eggs in mixer bowl and beat until frothy and lemon-colored. Add sugar and beat for 3-5 minutes more.
  5. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Alternate adding liquid ingredients and dry ingredients to egg/sugar mixture in mixer.
  7. When batter is mixed completely, pour batter into prepared tube or Bundt pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Allow cake to cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan.
  1. This is a great cake as is, but also Is delicious frosted or as a base for Strawberry Shortcake or Boston Cream Pie.

Parting Comments

Hot Milk Sponge Cake is a light, tender cake with a fine texture and a mild vanilla flavor. It’s delicious with or without frosting but makes a good cake for Strawberry Shortcake. I’ll treasure this recipe always because it was given to me by my friend Milly Kay, a woman of great faith and wisdom. Thanks Milly!

Won’t you try making Hot Milk Sponge Cake soon?

Remember to Savor the Flavor!


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